Responsive Reading inspired by Isaiah 35 — Duncan Wilson, UK

Lectionary reading on Third Sunday of Advent, Year A

Listen to the news of hope reborn from Isaiah 35.

The desert will rejoice
and flowers will bloom in the wild places.
Everywhere will reflect God’s glory.
Tired hands and bent knees will be strong again.

Eyes will see again, ears be opened.
The lame will leap and dance
and silent lips break into laughter.

Streams will flood the desert,
springs will refresh dry ground.
This is the time for telling everyone who is discouraged,

‘Take heart and don’t be afraid!
God is coming to our rescue.’

The refugees are coming home
singing and dancing for joy.
The road to holiness is open again.  Hear the message,

You will be happy for ever,
free from sorrow and grief.

Eternal One, thank you. Thank you that here we are free to enjoy life,
the world, and everything you have made;
to make friends,
to take part in all that life offers,
to reflect on it, to worship and to pray.

Thank you that we are free from hunger
and from living all the time in fear
as many people do.

Thank you that here we are free to express ourselves,
to speak and write and make our views known;
that we can explore our talents and skills
and share them with others.
Thank you, most of all,
for your love which heals and forgives us.

We have not always listened to your voice
nor followed in your footsteps.
We are sometimes untrue to our faith,
cold or complacent, and we are sorry.

Yet you are gracious towards our shortcomings.
May we hear your words of forgiveness,
and be ready to forgive others.

Thank you for calling us to follow you
in the adventure of the Christian Way.
Help us create a world where everyone can live with the real hope of healing and of hearing truth spoken without compromise.
Help us to make a world such as Isaiah envisaged where justice, mercy and peace can flow unhindered.

As we remember your coming long ago,
may nothing hold us back from making you welcome here, today.